Collaboration in Action: Best Practices in Sex Work Services, Policy & Policing
On June 2, 2016, Living in Community (LIC) hosted ‘Collaboration in Action: Best Practices in Sex Work Services, Policy & Policing’, a forum that brought together over 60 sex workers, sex work support organizations, police, municipal and provincial governments and other community groups from across the Lower Mainland & Nanaimo to share best practices and identify gaps across municipalities on sex work-related issues. See press release here
In 2012, Forsaken: The Report of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry recommended “that other communities be encouraged to undertake the type of collaborative community engagement strategy employed by Living in Community to develop an integrated strategy for enhancing the safety of women engaged in the survival sex trade”. In 2014/2015, the Province of BC provided funding for Living in Community to expand its community development model to other communities.
In the fall of 2014, LIC began meeting with RCMP Surrey Detachment, the City of Surrey, and numerous community organizations to introduce the Living in Community model. We have also delivered Curriculum for Change, Living in Community’s 3.5 hour sex work workshop to various community organizations. Currently, LIC is supporting the Surrey Vulnerable Women & Girls Working Group that is working to increase direct support services for sex workers in Surrey.
LIC approached the city of Prince George as the first community north of Vancouver for LIC expansion. Resource extraction industries commonly employ a large number of men and sex work in these remote communities can present a number of issues. In addition, Prince George is situated along Highway 97, also known as the “Highway of Tears” in light of the number of women, mostly Aboriginal, who have disappeared along this route. After much research and planning, LIC travelled to Prince George April 27 to 29, 2015 where we held a number of meetings with community organizations, local government officials, and spent a great deal of time with Jan Wilson, executive director of New Hope Society, a drop-in centre for sex workers.
LIC began discussions with the Nanaimo cohort, a LIC-like committee, in early 2014. In the fall of 2014, LIC travelled to Nanaimo for a one day session to share best practices. We were accompanied by City of Vancouver Social Planner Ty Mistry whose work focuses on the needs of indoor sex workers in Vancouver. We presented Curriculum for Change in the morning and spent the afternoon presenting the LIC model and assisting participants in strategic planning and developing a made-in-Nanaimo action plan that builds on work carried out since 2008. In June 2016, representatives from the Nanaimo cohort presented at LIC’s Collaboration in Action: Best Practices in Sex Work Services, Policy and Policing in Vancouver.
SAFE (Sex Work Awareness For Everyone) was implemented in Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood in 2009. Recognizing the need to implement the LIC model at a local level, Living in Community secured funding to address the sex industry and sexual exploitation within a Vancouver neighbourhood. A framework was developed by LIC to address community concerns about sex work and youth sexual exploitation in an inclusive and respectful way to ensure better outcomes for residents, businesses and sex workers. The project brought together different neighbourhood groups to identify the issues and challenges and take steps to produce practical and tangible results. The project
• Initiated dialogue within the community and provided public education to the community
• Created printed materials and a website
• Provided outreach and support services to sex workers in the community
• Engaged local youth in a project aimed at educating young people about the risks of youth sexual exploitation
SAFE In Collingwood now operates independently of Living in Community.
For the most up-to-date information on SAFE initiatives, please visit the SAFE website.
In 2016, LIC is working in the Cedar Cottage neighbourhood to address sex work-related issues.